Slowey makes early impression at camp
Minor League prospect impresses coaches during first week
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson knows the first week of bullpen sessions at Spring Training doesn't exactly tell a whole lot about a pitcher.But that hasn't prevented right-hander Kevin Slowey, one of the team's top pitching prospects, from making an early impression. "How he's gone about his work -- his makeup and his demeanor have all been very impressive," Anderson said. "His stuff plays like Brad Radke's. He's not overpowering, he has to locate and change speeds. There is not one pitch that you're like, 'Wow,' it's all of them -- just like Rad." Slowey's progress last year was similar to that of fellow 2005 draft pick Matt Garza. Rising from Class A Fort Myers all the way to Triple-A Rochester for the playoffs, Slowey earned praise for his strong command of all of his pitches. The likelihood of Slowey sticking with the Major League club is minimal at best, so the 22-year-old is using this first experience in big-league camp to soak up all the information he can. "I've been doing my best, whenever I haven't been throwing, to watch how the other guys throw," Slowey said. "From their warmups to seeing how guys work on stuff, you can tell that there is never a bullpen session that goes by idly. It encourages you to be focused and have something that you want to work on every time." On the move: Third baseman Tommy Watkins, a non-roster invitee, is making only his second appearance in big-league camp, but this time around, he's drawing plenty of praise. Watkins isn't expected to be a contender for any of the backup utility roles this year, but after he was written off by some as a better coaching prospect than a player, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Watkins is doing things to prove his maturation. Watkins hit .276 in 60 games with Triple-A Rochester last season. "He went from a suspect to a prospect pretty good in this organization," Gardenhire said. "He turned himself into a pretty good player." On the pine: A back injury that Josh Rabe suffered while playing winter ball in Venezuela threatened to keep Rabe out of camp, but the outfielder was able to participate in every drill during the team's first full-squad workout on Saturday.
Names in the game: Rod Carew made a career as one of the best hitters in the league, and now he's translating that hitting advice to success for some of the current Twins.Carew is in camp once again this year as a special instructor. Last year, Carew helped Nick Punto change some of the mechanics in his swing to help utilize Punto's speed on the basepaths. The result was the highest batting average of his Major League career, .290. The Hall of Famer got to work immediately upon his arrival at camp Saturday as he helped deliver instruction to Ken Harvey, a non-roster invitee who is a candidate for the open designated hitter spot. They're No. 1: One of the players who was most well received at camp this year was Matthew LeCroy, who returned to the organization with a Minor League contract after a one-year absence. A sandwich pick in the first round of the 1997 draft, LeCroy will have his work cut out for him to make the club, but he's certainly provided plenty of entertainment already in the clubhouse, from cracking jokes to putting his singing on display. If LeCroy doesn't end up in the Minors for the club either, he already has set a goal for his post-playing days. He wants to become a Major League manager, and many in the Twins organization believe he's got the makeup for that job. "We all know what kind of a guy he is, how respected he is in this organization," Gardenhire said. "He's pretty close to having the body for [a manager] right now. I know he has the speed." Class of '06: Minor League camp hasn't started, so none of last year's draft picks have had a chance to display their stuff as of yet. One prospect that many are looking forward to seeing is the club's first-round pick, Chris Parmelee. The prospect showed his hitting ability by blasting eight home runs and 32 RBIs in 45 games with the Rookie League club in '06. What they're saying: "I think you get into trouble when you go into camp expecting things. Obviously, everybody in here wants to be in the Major Leagues someday. If they say they don't, they're lying. I would love to break with the team, but it's one of those things that you can't control. I'm here to learn a lot and hopefully I'll be here awhile." -- Slowey, on sticking around at Major League camp
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.